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Longfellow’s Christmas Bells

Posted by on Dec 21, 2018

The sorrow behind the joyful words of Longfellow’s song. As a writer, I’m always fascinated to learn the history behind the stories and how the events at the time might influence the  words that flow onto a blank page. Good or bad, joyous or devastating–strong emotions can evolve into powerful prose. A good example is a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, one of my all time favorites. Longfellow’s Sorrow In the case of Christmas Bells, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow wrote the words to his poem on December 25, 1864.  The music and message we enjoy today is up-lifting. The words actually came from a very distraught Longfellow during one of the lowest times in his life. Tragedy Strikes Again Three years earlier, the summer of 1861, his beloved wife Fanny had tried to preserve her daughter’s hair clippings in wax.  In a tragic turn of events, hot candle wax dripped onto Fanny’s dress, igniting it in flames. She ran into her husband’s study, where Henry tried to extinguish the blaze with a rug. He experienced severe burns to his face, arms, and hands. How they both must have suffered through that long night, only to have Fanny die the next morning. Henry was much too ill  to even attend her funeral. “A merry Christmas’ say the children,...

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Truck Cookies and Piles of Worms

Posted by on Dec 14, 2018

“Traditions are the guideposts driven deep in our subconscious minds. The most powerful ones are those we can’t even describe, aren’t even aware of.” ELLEN GOODMAN “I’m putting a truck on mine,” proclaimed my eight-year-old. “That’s a great idea!” I said. Dump trucks are not ordinarily parked on holiday cookies, but expressing oneself is an important part of growing up. Besides, we only had this short afternoon to form life-long  memories, so let the merry making begin. “Don’t spread that out, Mom.  It’s supposed to be the lights,” ordered my five-year-old, as he licked green icing off his fingers.  Against my better judgment, I set aside a cookie with long, thin tubes, which looked more like a pile of worms. The time passed quickly as we added final touches from an assortment of sprinkles, gummies, and peppermint candies. We had lost my father not that many months ago, and my mother was finally smiling and laughing at her grandsons. Pushing the cookies to one side, the next task came in the form of decorating a house. Our family ritual does NOT involve the aroma of gingerbread baking in the oven while adorable faces mix home-made icing and sort colored gumballs. Our project comes in a kit. The finished work of brilliance is inedible and lopsided,...

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Cranberry Relish Time!

Posted by on Dec 7, 2018

Finding Joy in Simple Things like Cranberry Relish! Fate is a funny thing; people weave in and out of our lives and sometimes the ones who make the most memorable impact are here for the briefest of moments. I love these simple surprises, like the day I discovered cranberry relish. A New Neighbor We had a new neighbor right across the street, who we welcomed on Halloween with pumpkin bread along with kids dressed as Buzz Lightyear and a...

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Goodnight Historical Center; Worth A Stop

Posted by on Nov 23, 2018

If you happen to be traveling along U.S. Highway 287 through the Texas Panhandle this holiday season, plan for a pit stop at the Charles Goodnight Historical Center in Goodnight, Texas. Don’t blink because you might miss it. Set back from the black top, you will see an 1887 Victorian-style home. The historical center is located at 4901 County Road 25. Watch for the buffalo signs and turn south on Country Road 25 by the green Buffalo Gold building....

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